Monday, August 17, 2009

Police escorts for monks accepting offerings


It has become mandatory, from early last week, for Buddhist monks going out to accept food offerings from local devotees in Myitkyina, the capital of Burma's northern Kachin State, to be escorted by two policemen, said local sources.

Eyewitnesses said, two armed policemen escorted a column of monks, when they left to accept offerings of food from local devotees each morning. (Su Taung Pyi monastery in Myitkyina, Kachin State, northern Burma.)

A resident of Myitkyina told KNG today, he saw each column of monks being escorted by two policemen. Monks in Su Taung Pyi and Ann Daw Shin monasteries in the town were also escorted by policemen when they went out to accept food offerings from devotees in the morning.

Local police sources said, the monks are being escorted to prevent any anti-junta demonstrations in the town similar to the countrywide monk-led anti-regime demonstrations known as the ‘Saffron Revolution’ in September, 2007. The order to escort monks comes from the junta's Maj-Gen Soe Win, commander of Myitkyina-based Northern Regional command (or Ma-Pa-Kha).

During the ‘Saffron Revolution’ in Myitkyina, Burmese security forces cracked down brutally on the monasteries in the town. Several monks were beaten to death by Burmese soldiers on the orders of Maj-Gen Ohn Myint, former commander of Northern Regional command.

The military authorities of Myitkyina have been listing monks, Christian pastors and preachers and all government personnel along with their brief bio data since last July, said residents of Myitkyina.

Residents believe that the data collection could be to take action quickly in the event of any anti-junta demonstration.

At the same time, the junta is also collecting the names and listing properties of all members of the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) and its armed-wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), who are known to own houses and business ventures in Myitkyina.

From early this month, security has been beefed up in Myitkyina. Policemen in prison cell trucks are driving around the town at night, said local residents.

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